I’m excited to tell you about the new memoir Will Travel for (Vegan) Food: A Young Woman’s Solo Van-Dwelling Mission to Break Free, Find Food, and Make Love, which launches today! I was lucky enough to be a member of the book launch team, for which I received a free digital copy of the book and the opportunity to interview its author, Kristin Lajeunesse.
I first heard of Kristin about 2 years ago when she was a guest on the Our Hen House podcast sharing about her adventures travelling around the country, aiming to try every Vegan Restaurant in the Country ... More than 500 of them! As a lover of food & travel myself, I immediately felt a kinship with her and started following her Blog & YouTube channel where I found even more reasons to be inspired by her – Kristin regularly shares her thoughts on how to find and follow your passions, a message her lifestyle truly embodies…
…In 2011, she quit her steady job, sold all of her belongings, bought a van, and embarked on a journey that would take her 39,000 miles through 48 states over 2 years on her quest to Travel for Vegan Food.
A nation-wide food tour is the stuff of my wildest dreams, so I couldn’t wait to dive into her memoir for a behind the scenes look. While the book includes plenty of drool-worthy food-porn scenes (like her insanely delicious meal at Vedge), it’s so much more than a book about food.
The book carries with it a great sense of adventure. In addition to the travel element of the book, Kristin actually slept in her van most nights which presented a lot of hurdles, including finding safe & legal places to park and things we often take for granted like finding showers & toilets (which made for a terrifying poop story in Chapter 9).
Perhaps even braver than travelling solo, Kristin openly shares personal details in an honest & reflective way, including her big decision and everything she left behind, and a particularly steamy Chapter 8.
And lastly, the book is full of inspiration, as it shows Kristin following her dream and finding success and happiness in a very unconventional way.
Between the food, adventure, romance, & self-reflection, the book has everything I love in a summer-read, reminding me at times of Wild and Eat, Pray, Love. I had a hard time putting the book down – I read all 258 pages in just 4 days and and wanted the journey to continue when I reached the end.
I highly recommend this book, but if you’re not convinced yet, hear more about her journey below from Kristin herself!
Interview with the Author
Leaving a steady job, selling almost all of your belongings, and giving up your apartment takes a lot of courage. What inspired you to make the bold move of embarking on your cross-country journey? What were you hoping to accomplish?
Good question. Hmm.. it’s a bit difficult to answer because it truly came down to this burning desire. As in, it was just something I knew I had to do. Once the idea came to me I couldn’t shake it. It seemed to be the answer to some unfulfilled void that I had yet to define, pre-travel days.
My initial goal, of course, was to attempt to eat at every vegan restaurant in the US. I had no idea it would turn into so much more.
Now, of course I’m dying to hear about the food! – If you could ZAP yourself to any Vegan restaurant in the country right this second – where would you go and what would you order?
Haha!! I would go to Portobello in Portland, OR and get their ice cream sundae. Haaave mercy!!
In your experience, what seems to be The Nation’s Best…
….Tofu Scramble? –> Bouldin Creek Cafe (Austin)
….Vegan Pizza? –> Blackbird Pizzeria (Philly)
….Vegan Donuts? –> Ronald’s (Vegas)
….Meal-worthy Salad? –> come to think of it, I don’t believe I ever ordered salad when dining out
….Any other Superlatives? –> acai bowl –> Choice Health Bar (Maui)
What were some of your favorite Non-Food Experiences from the trip? (i.e. people you met, events you attended, sights you saw)
Well those are in the book, of course! 😉 Here’s the short-list version though: Nicole from Detroit, Kayle from Nevada City, Craig from Austin, Eric from Chattanooga, the Badlands National Park, Crazy Horse memorial, driving through Wyoming’s crazy mountainous roadways, my mom joining the trip for a week while making one of the scariest drives on a narrow, unpaved, cliff-side road, traveling to Europe, sleeping on random side streets in residential neighborhoods, the waiter who picked me up that one time, and hiking the Grand Canyon.
While the Food & Travel sounds like a lot of fun, living in a van did not sound easy. In your book you wrote about the challenges of finding safe spaces to park, showers to borrow, and public toilets. What about living on the road was harder than you had originally expected? How did you make it work?
Getting a good night’s sleep was probably the most challenging thing. I was fortunate to go no longer than 5 days without a shower, and be it a Walmart or a coffee shop I could always find a place to wash my face and brush my teeth. But being able to sleep without one eye open “just in case” was a never-ending battle. I had a difficult adjustment period for several months after the trip, waking up (even when I was back at my folk’s home) thinking I was in the van and someone was trying to break in. I made it work by simply pushing on. There wasn’t really a way around that one.
Between all the restaurant meals and time spent behind the wheel – how did you stay healthy throughout the journey?
That’s an easy one: I didn’t. I gained 25 pounds by the end of the first year. I didn’t have a routine to stay healthy. In fact, I ended up taking 4 weeks of down time and stayed with a friend for month after the first year because my body had had enough. I felt awful and had to finally listen to my body. I was eating anything and everything that was vegan – meaning all the sweets too. So, at some point I had no choice but to slow down.
Your Bucket List “BID list” has a lot of international wishes… do you have any plans to Travel For Food abroad?
My dream is to do a 2.0 version of the trip and swap out van life for 3-4 month long stays in international cities while recording a TV show version instead of having a written blog. Hoping Ellen or Oprah will call to get that one off the ground. 😉
I’d love to hear from you!
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant in the country?
Have you ever taken an epic Road Trip?
Disclaimer: This post contains Affiliate Links to help offset the costs of my blog. All opinions are my own.